MANHEIM >> Central Dauphin’s first two penalty kicks narrowly eluded the long reach of Unionville keeper Alex Dolce.
“I was close on the first two,” Dolce would say afterward. “It was just a matter of time before I got my paw on it.”
Up stepped Michael Chiha for the Rams’ third attempt. Dolce dove to his left, stifling the shot.
“I was pretty confident because I knew all of our guys were gonna make their shots,” Dolce said, “and we’d be going home happy.”
True to form, the Indians converted on all five of their kicks and Dolce’s save provided the difference, as Unionville survived a 0-0 tie with a 5-4 edge in PK’s, advancing past Central Dauphin and onto the PIAA-4A Semifinals on Tuesday against Wilson.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Dolce said of reaching the state’s final four. “It was a defensive draw and to win it in PK’s is special.”
The two teams battled through 110 minutes of soccer and a freezing wind to arrive at a 0-0 tie two after two overtimes.
“It was a pretty even game. It went back and forth,” said Indians coach Rich Garber, who has guided Unionville back to the state semis for the first time since 2009. “Both teams had opportunities and I thought we had that one towards the end of the second overtime.
“They seemed pretty sure going into penalty kicks. Alex played well tonight. Tonight, he was really good. And I thought our back four did really well.”
Central Dauphin shot first in PK’s, with Peyton Blain converting. Unionville tied it, with Michael Hewes beating keeper Eric Axtman.
Both teams were successful with their second attempts: Jason Kline for the Rams, Tommy Kelly for the Indians.
Dolce’s stop then tilted momentum to Unionville, and Sam Price went lower left corner to put the Indians in front for the first time, 3-2.
The next three kicks all found their targets: CD’s John Axtman, Unionville’s Evan Dougherty and the Rams’ Garrett Keister all put their shots in, leaving the score deadlocked at four.
Garrett Pinkston then drilled a shot over the reach of Eric Axtman and underneath the crossbar to win it for the Indians.
“It’s been a while since Unionville has been (to the state semis) and to get back there is special,” Dolce said. “Hopefully, we can go even further.
“We’re all a team. We work together and we just fight hard. Everyone has each other’s back. If one guy messes up, he knows he’s got 10 other guys working for him. And that’s how we’ve been doing it all season.”
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